Having a library isn’t solely about having the proper infrastructure and books. Equally important, perhaps even more so, are the people placed in charge of managing said libraries. Good infrastructure means nothing if no one is there to maintain them. Quality books are useless if no one tracks their whereabouts. So in addition to the goods we supply to these libraries, we also provide training to the headmasters, teachers, future librarians, and even government officials, in order to ensure that the libraries we build together serve their purpose of allowing children to develop their love of reading in a child friendly environment for many years to come.
This particular training session focused on Library Management, and took place over three days. We trained three representatives from 20 schools, as well as government representatives from all the provinces (North Ende, East Ende, Ende, Pulau Ende, Ndona and Nangapanda) where we plan to build the libraries for this cycle. In order to maximize our reach, we split the training into two batches, each with a participant count of about 40 people. The first batch took place from 19-21 April, and the second batch from 23-25 April.
We have always believed that people learn best when the learning is painless. To that end, we’ve attempted to create a workshop that is not only rich with relevant content, but also material that stimulates and engages our audience. For instance, we encouraged the participants of the training to define for themselves what it means to have a child-friendly library. Other times we ask that participants design their own libraries, letting them consider the layout of their furniture, the positioning of the librarian’s desk, and the way the light entering through the windows interacts with the library’s interior. Finally, we also conveyed how we may support these libraries in a positive manner. We stressed the importance of this project being a collaboration between two equal parties, not one where one party dominates the other. That we, as Taman Bacaan Pelangi, will never outright criticize or scold the librarians or any other school staff, but rather work together to find ways to improve upon what was already done. That, to quote High School Musical, we are all in this together.
Thankfully, the participants remained engaged with the presenters throughout the entire three days of training. They asked many questions and raised many concerns. Much of these questions revolved around disagreements over whether things such as outright criticism or pointing out mistakes made constitutes as “negative” or “positive” support. But after much debate, we collectively agreed that the best type of support is the type where no one feels attacked. Therefore, the best type of support takes the form of groups collectively discussing to find a better way—much like the way our workshops were structured.
Overall, it was an exciting 6 days: full of uproarious laughter, rousing debates, and even manly tears. May the enthusiasm displayed in this workshop continue in the library for years to come.